“Good evening, Sirs. Welcome to The Berkeley.” the parking valet smiled, sweeping open the driver’s door of the Jag.
By the time they arrived at posh-pants hotel, Knightsbridge, Mac’s patience was shredded. A result of sticking rigidly to the speed limit for fear of being pulled over, when the identity of his passenger all-but ensured a search would ensue. This, while suffering the worst case of cripple cock ever crammed into a Jag—Joe’s—and its chuntering consequences. All accompanied by constant are we there yet seat squirming, and nary a drop of Scotch to drink. Other than that, Mac felt splendid, thank you very much.
Despite this litany of woes, Mac still had to stifle a smirk when—after striding around the car—the valet pulled open the passenger door. It soon transpired that the exemplary training of the Berkeley didnae arm its staff against the three miles of alabaster leg that exited the Jag, about a rapidly blinking gaze before the rest of Joe followed in its wake.
Mac didnae think it likely that the lad was star-struck, when the rich and famous were frequent patrons of the esteemed establishment he’d selected. A fact that seemed to suggest a particular partiality to his guest, egregious legs or…a rather acute fondness for battered acoustic guitars.
“It’s a pleasure to meet you, Mr Fitzgerald,” he blinked, flushing a furious shade of scarlet alongside the more customary inclination of his head.
Or possibly all three.
“Merci, muchly,” Joe grinned, doffing the top hat he’d donned while…pouring himself from the car.
“A porter will bring your luggage presently,” the valet promised, peeling eyes-on-stalks off silk paisley to glance Mac’s way when he jangled the keys at the poor sod.
“Thanks,” he nodded, before flicking his head towards the imposing entrance. “C’mon Trouble…before my Jag winds up wrapped around a lollipop tree,” Mac sighed, clasping a slithery elbow to steer Joe doorwards. Steadfastly ignoring the sizzle of static that shot up his arm.
They were greeted by a black-besuited gent in a top hat so squat, it was nearly a bowler. The doorman was decked out in vaguely Victorian morning dress; all of which lent him the air of a spruced up Chaplin, sans Hitler moustache. So in they went; the silk swathed mad-hatter and his bulldog-chewing-a-wasp bodyguard. The latter now feeling decidedly surly; a consequence of cripple cock and awestruck fanboys.
“Good Evening Sir, welcome to The Berkeley…” greeted the receptionist when Mac reached her desk. ‘Sir’ because Joe had stilled several feet away and stood, sweeping the foyer like a lighthouse lamp with huge, unblinking eyes. A burgundy blot on a marble landscape.
“It’s very swish, but a bit…bling,” the miscreant decided, with a tut ‘n’ sigh that suggested; I guess I’ll just have to slum it amid modern conveniences.
Once Mac had secured them a suite, they were guided along a plethora of highly polished (possibly) oak and ivory corridors; both gleaming with a supernatural shine that was migraine-inducing at three hundred hours (into Mac’s day). Joe was strangely quiet, his gaze darting this way and that.
“Y’okay?” Mac murmured as they clacked along the corridor.
“Yeah…just a bit beset by craving and shiny.” Joe wrinkled his nose. Like a seven foot rabbit.
“Shiny?” Mac chuckled.
“Surfaces…stabbing my eyeballs. Blimey, it’s bright,” he winced.
Being sandblasted by greige at three a.m., while craving opiates, was possibly not the most comfortable of experiences, Mac had to concede. Their rooms should be furnished with more discreet lighting, at least. With a bit of luck, their luggage would be along in a jiffy and Joe could access his stash. Before his head exploded.
“The Wellington Suite, Sirs…” their porter announced, sweeping the door open, and flicking the switch to illuminate the room.
“Strewth!” Joe cringed, when it was promptly floodlit.
Mac headed straight for the standard lamp in the corner and gestured to the porter to kill the strobes before turning it on.
“Thanks, no problem,” Mac assured him. “A touch of…light sensitivity. Migraine.”
After the amenities of the suite had been extolled: expansive outdoor roof terrace with conservatory, sauna, impressive views of London’s skyline…etc, etc…their not-so temporary host recited the bumf regarding menus, room service…ad infinitum…informed Mac that their luggage would be with them presently, pocketed his tip, and finally, left them in peace.
“Phww...what a palaver. I’m staying at The Hole In The Wall, next time.” Joe sighed, sinking into the plush (porridge) sofa.
“Yeah, I think so…it was the first name wot popped in my head and sounded a mite more…befitting,” Joe grinned. “Y’know it?”
“Yeah…it’s not far from my gaff. I’m…fond of the area. I should probably apologise, that’s why you now find yourself reclining in the greige splendour of the Wellington Suite.”
“I somehow doubt the others would’ve been much of an improvement in the eyesore stakes. You’re a dark horse, Mac. You didn’t strike me as the sentimental type…oddly ’nuff. P’raps cos…your reply to my last personal question reprised, ‘If I told you, I’d have to kill you.”
“The two aren’t mutually exclusive,” Mac pointed out. “Why’d you suppose serial killers keep trophies…?”
“Hm, good point. Blimey, I wish the bloody porter would hurry up with your stash of fingernails,” Joe sighed, kneading at his forehead with the heel of his hand.
“Touché.” Mac snorted. “D’you want a cuppa…or something stronger?”
“A cuppa, weirdly nuff. My belly is fizzing lager and not much else,” Joe owned, with a groan.
“D’you want something to eat?”
“I’ll have some crunchy nutte—thank gawd for that,” Joe perked up, when a discreet double-knock at the door promised a far finer distraction.
“It seems they’ve arrived…” Mac stated the bloody obvious while marching over to open it.
A few minutes later their incongruous collection of luggage was sitting piled on the porridge carpet, looking uncannily akin to the lost property office at Waterloo Station. “Okay, Trouble, what d’you want first?” Possibly the most pointless query on the plant, as he stared at the motley collection of clutter now littering the salubrious suite.
“I thought you were beset by cravings?” Mac smirked, spearing Joe with a flinty special.
“Wracked with them…so p’raps I should say…” Joe winced, while levering his aching bones off the squishy sofa. He stood, scratching at his head—which seemed to be hosting a nest of fire ants—while pondering the pile of luggage, trying to remember where he’d stuffed his stash. Brown suitcase, he decided, creaking to his haunches in order to flick its clasps open and lift the lid. “I want you, first and foremost, but I’d better have a quick toot before the rictus sets in. Unless, you’ve got a crowbar handy to prise my legs apart…which wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest, t’be honest. On the off chance that anyone requires coshing.”
Joe wasn’t paying a lot of attention to all his gibberish, being too busy scrabbling for his stash, which he finally unearthed, stuffed into a sock. For all the world as if to foil pesky search party poopers. Not his most-inspired spot of subterfuge, Joe had to admit, but no matter…when it was here, safe ‘n’ sound. Possibly on accounts of Mac’s punctilious driving (Joe demented), in order to deter invisible police cars lurking in laybys. Apparently.
“Before you cast aspersions, Mr McBadass, surely you could do with a wee dram or twelve—truth still being the order of the day n’all—so suck it up,” Joe informed him, straightening up; Santa stocking clutched in a clammy fist. “You look a tad tense, so don’t deny it…” Joe raised a tentative hand (sans sock) lest it be batted aside, to sweep a trailing tendril of fringe away from Mac’s face. “I’m sorry…” he murmured, placing a forefinger on the furrow between the dark wings of Mac’s brows to smooth it away. “Forgive me…?” he pleaded, cringing a bit, p’raps cos Mac didnae look as if he was about to nut him. As Joe deserved.
“Tense…?” Mac blew out a looong breath, looked as if he were about to say a helluva lot more, then rolled his eyes with a sigh. A heartfelt one. Rather than ‘despairing’…ditto deserved-wise. “It’s my own fault for agreeing to transport you and half the national gross product of Afghanistan across the country, at three a.m. without so much—”
“As a tot o’whisky or a snatch of sleep,” Joe supplied, with a wince. “Not your fault, either. I am sorry, really. That’s why everyone preferred me stoned…at first. I was…easier, before I wasn’t,” he acknowledged.
“Easier?” Mac cocked his head, seeking clarification for something that wasn’t a jot worth hearing. Let alone listening to.
“Less prone to haring off or doing stuff that makes folk miffy? I didn’t know it was four a.m…I needed to go to the studio, it was important. So was the saxophonist. The xylophone…was a bit of a whim, but it worked out a treat.”
“Did you manage to…obtain a xylophone…at four a.m?” Mac’s lips twitched a tad, despite the eyebrow that paid his hairline a visit.
“Not till six-ish…?” Joe admitted, “It felt like three weeks though. I didn’t mean to be selfish, I didn’t know what day it was, let alone time, I hadn’t been to bed, I just—”
“Needed a xylophone.” Mac shook his head, with an eye roll that looked… No, that couldn’t be right. ‘Fond’ eye rolls weren’t a thing, were they? And even if they were, meanest mo-fo’s on Earth did not do ‘fond’. Way too airy-fairy. Wry? Rueful? Those seemed more fitting. Joe’s marbles were skittering about like dried peas rattling around on a tin tray, in the trailer of a flat-bed truck. This, is why folks preferred him stoned. A smidge.
‘Smidges’ weren’t Joe’s best thing, it must be admitted. In case anyone hadn’t noticed. In darkest Peru, or Timbuktu. Now there was a rhyme worth weaving…
“Ooh, I need a pen…”
Mac? Didnae even bother asking. Nor pull a what-the-fuck face. Just slipped a hand into his jacket…and produced a fancy fountain pen from his inner breast pocket.
Proving, once and for all, exactly why Mac was a class act. And the baddest bad-ass on the planet. Quite aside from the incomparable butt, that being an unimpeachable fact.